Thursday, November 29, 2012

How US v. Jones Can Restore Our Faith in the Fourth Amendment

US v. Jones

Jones truly was a landmark case. I hope to see the 4th Amendment restored to its traditional strength, rather than eroded away in favor of police powers.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Shoplifting Suspect Killed

Shoplifting Suspect Killed

It's a fine line between using force to protect property and nab shoplifters and using so much force that it endangers human life. I'm not saying we should tie the hands of businesses, because 99.9% of the time, no one dies. But when someone dies, it gets very expensive for the store.

Yes, we handle these types of cases. Give us a call.


Some Cops Never Learn

Some Cops Never Learn

Man records police. Gets arrested. Gets $25,000 settlement. Same guy records same officers.  Gets arrested again.

Will they ever learn?  Recording the police doing their job in a public place isn't a crime.  In fact, it may enjoy a level of protection in the Constitution.

If you or anyone you know ever gets arrested for recording a police officer in public, call me immediately.

Better yet, use my iPhone App to do the recording so that it is sent to me immediately.

- John

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Public Defender Suspended for Using N-Word | American Renaissance

Public Defender Suspended for Using N-Word | American Renaissance

Public Defender Suspended for Using N-Word

Bill Rankin, David Simpson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state’s public defender council voted Friday to place longtime DeKalb County public defender Larry Schneider on administrative leave pending an investigation related to Schneider’s use of a racial slur in a meeting.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council cited an unspecified allegation about Schneider’s conduct at a Dec. 7 meeting with council staff. Schneider said in an interview he told a story at the meeting about overhearing a DeKalb judge use a slur shortly before Schneider was appointed public defender in 1984.

The slur was the “n-word,” and Schneider acknowledged he used it .

“I did say the word . . . It was a story quoting a Superior Court judge in 1984 and was to illustrate my familiarity with racial bias in the court system,” Schneider said.

Schneider, who is white, said he told the story while pressing council staff to give him “race and sex data on our clients so that I could analyze them for evidence of racial bias.”

He said he has told the same story in public oral history sessions without incident.

Schneider said he was not informed of the complaint against him until DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott, a member of the public defender council, called him Thursday and told him he was offended by the comments.

Scott offered the motion Friday which found probable cause to seek Schneider’s removal. The council’s staff recused itself from the investigation. A special master will be appointed to conduct a hearing and then make a recommendation to the council, which will make a final decision on whether to remove Schneider from office.

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios

Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants | Politics and Law - CNET News

At the risk of sounding paranoid, be careful what you put in emails.
The government watches.

Don't forget the old FBI Carnivore program back in the 1990's, either.

- John

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Proposition 36: California Voters Overwhelmingly Ease Three Strikes law
Proposition 36, crafted by a group of Stanford University law professors in partnership with the New York-based NAACP Legal Defense Fund, will allow only certain hard-core criminals, including murderers, rapists and child molesters, to be put away for life for any third felony offense, while restricting the third strike to a serious or violent felony for everyone else. Forty-five percent of third-strikers are African-American.
I think the "tough on crime" wave hits about every 15-20 years.  People want to get tough on crime because they mistakenly think that the length of a potential prison sentence makes people think twice before committing a crime. (It doesn't.)  What actually happens is that the prisons fill up faster than anyone expected.  When it comes time to pay the bill, taxpayers suddenly look for "alternatives to incarceration" rather than pony up for additional prisons.  We are now in that phase of the cycle, and it will last a decade or so, I would guess. 

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Fourth Amendment Goes to the Dogs

Chemerinsky: The Fourth Amendment Goes to the Dogs - News - ABA Journal

The unregulated use of "drug dogs" to allow police to search in situations where they would normally not have the right to search has grown more and more abused in the past decades.  I am hoping that the Supreme Court will clamp down on this end-run around the US Constitution, but I have my doubts. 

Chermerinsky writes: 
There have been only three prior Supreme Court cases concerning the use of such dogs and both arose in very different contexts. In United States v. Place, the court in 1983 rejected a Fourth Amendment objection to the use of a drug sniffing dog used for a piece of luggage in an airport. When Place’s behavior in the airport raised suspicion, the police took his suitcase and had a dog sniff it. The dog signaled the presence of drugs, the suitcase was opened, and cocaine was found.

The Supreme Court rejected a Fourth Amendment challenge and held that the use of the drug sniffing dog was not a search. The court stressed that the luggage was in a public place and that the use of the drug sniffing dog was less intrusive than opening the suitcase and exposing non-contraband to view. In language that might be relevant in Jardines, the court said: “Thus, the manner in which information is obtained through this investigative technique is much less intrusive than a typical search. Moreover, the sniff discloses only the presence or absence of narcotics, a contraband item.”

In 2000’s City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, the court held that it violated the Fourth Amendment for the police to create a checkpoint at which they stopped cars to have a drug sniffing dog detect the presence of drugs. The court explained: “We have never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Although the court found the checkpoint to violate the Fourth Amendment, it also said, relying on Place, that the use of the dogs was not a search because there was no entry into the car and was not designed to reveal any information other than the presence of illegal drugs.

Finally, in Illinois v. Caballes, the court ruled in 2005 that a sniff by a drug detection dog of the exterior of a vehicle during the course of a lawful traffic stop did not constitute a Fourth Amendment search. The court once more emphasized that there was no infringement of the reasonable expectation of privacy in the use of such dogs to reveal only the presence of contraband.

As always, if you find your property or automobile being subjected to a "search" by a drug dog, pull out your cellular telephone and record it.  Then email me the recording before the police find and destroy it.  My iPhone app (link below) can help you with this.

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios